Category Archives: post2015

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Building Bridges Road to Nairobi meets youth entrepreneurs across South Africa

The Building Bridges Foundation has completed traveling through South Africa, its first country on the Road to Nairobi. With its mission to foster youth-led solutions at the grassroots level in order to contribute towards the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the team met with over a hundred youth entrepreneurs across the country. The Foundation’s seeks to learn from grassroots youth entrepreneurs to to understand their day-to-day challenges and how these entrepreneurs have thus far managed to overcome them. 

Samantha Ndiwalana, Building Bridges Project Manager, and Annemarelle van Schayik, Building Bridges Research Manager, report back on the team’s journey through South Africa.


IMG_20160906_142901.jpgThe Building Bridges core team in front of their bus

“African problems, need African solutions” – some South African youth have taken this approach to heart and are fighting for a better future every day. In South Africa there are more than 19 million young people between the ages of 15 and 34 (as defined by South Africa’s National Youth Policy), that is 42% of the population.

Strikingly, among the 9.8 million youth in South Africa’s labour force only 6.2 million were employed and more than 3.6 million youth were unemployed in 2015, with unemployment being especially high for those residing in rural areas. However, most people cannot afford to be unemployed due to the lack of significant safety nets and the responsibility to care for their families.

IMG_20160907_175928.jpgThe Building Bridges team visiting a young poultry farmer in Vredeford

Today’s South African youth were born in the last years of, or just after, Apartheid. Since then regardless of race, color or gender all youth should have the same access to resources and opportunities in theory. However, the lived reality is that black South Africans struggle more than white South Africans, not necessarily solely because of race, but also because of a different upbringing and exposure from a young age.

According to one black youth entrepreneur, “white people have more social capital. At home you can talk about having a business and your parents can introduce you to people who can help you. Most black people don’t have that.”

14053918_1766289320279392_1969452852959175315_o.jpgThe Building Bridges team meets the young entrepreneur behind Sisanda Energy Lab

The MY World global survey led by the UN SDG Action Campaign shows that in South Africa most people want “A good education”. In the past years, thousands of youth have gone onto the streets to stop university tuition fee increases and instead are demanding free education. In a country where many black South Africans are the first of their generation to enter university, keeping up with fees and other university expenses is a challenge. Many drop out before graduating due to “financial exclusion”. Still, a future without a university diploma is seen as one of insecurity and poverty.

South African youth’s priority is not only education, they are also concerned with being taught the skills that will enable them to succeed. “We don’t learn practical skills. There is no talk about running a business up till high school. How can we take care of ourselves?”, remarked one youth.

Youth who drop out of university or do not continue after high school should have learned skills to create a better life for themselves than their parents had. Youth are the future and they all should be given the tools to contribute to a better future for themselves, their communities and South Africa as a whole.

Entrepreneurial innovations should be encouraged from a young age. Schools play a fundamental role in this. A white-collar job is not the only path to success and wealth. As skills training goes underutilized, there are opportunities for individuals with, for example, artisan, technical, electronic or plumbing training. There are many self-employment opportunities in these fields. In fact, South Africa is in need of local entrepreneurs who can create sustainable businesses.

13975260_1765539727021018_91416547130337434_o.jpgThe team meets with youth entrepreneurs in Kwaggafontein

South African youth have great potential to innovate, to change, to create solutions. Of course, being an entrepreneur is not for everyone, but those who have the passion and the drive can potentially learn the skills. Their success is not just on the individual level. It carries through their communities and their nation as they employ other youth.

Youth entrepreneurs not only address issues of decent employment opportunities, but also other striking local problems. Youth are drivers of innovation. On their journey through South Africa the Building Bridges team met, among others, innovative youth who are working on hydroponic farming, an interactive, but informative game about energy and how to handle, a cheaper medical insurance solution for uninsured South Africans.

Youth entrepreneurs are the future. But before changes can be made, we need to understand what the lived experiences of South African youth are and what can be done to enable them to succeed.

IMG_20160907_175938.jpgA Building Bridges event with various youth entrepreneurs in Kwaggafontein, Mpumalanga

Besides a pressing lack of business education from a young age and role models, many black youth entrepreneurs found the access to business registration lacking. We were told time after time that the decentralized government system is confusing and that the entrepreneurs wasted time being sent back and forth from office to office. Others were unemployed and had difficulty paying the needed business registration fees.

One youth entrepreneur stated, “there are a lot of young people who have ideas; they’re really strong ideas that are so powerful. The problem is, you are unemployed, but you’ve been told to open a bank account it is R500 (US$35.28), you’ve been told that to register a company it’s R400(US$28.22), your certificates that you needed, your BEE and your other certificates are quite expensive. And you are unemployed.”

Those that succeeded then found it difficult to get the startup capital needed. They were seen as risks by the banks and government funding was often unavailable for their type of business. However, besides lacking capital, many entrepreneurs also face negative feedback from their communities. Whole families depend on their income. Brothers’ tuition fees, sisters’ mobile data, and of course there needs to be food on the table. Working from 8 to 5 means a stable income and is the desired path by the wider community. All odds are against the young South African entrepreneur to succeed.

Screen Shot 2016-09-06 at 14.27.37.pngYouth entrepreneurs from South Africa

So what can be done? Building Bridges asked the youth entrepreneurs themselves. After all they are the experts:

  • Innocentia: “We need to change how things are run. The government offices should guide entrepreneurs. They should be people who are passionate, who care.”
  • Joyce: “The government can subsidize [registration costs]. It is expensive for an unemployed person to pay and there are a lot of procedures.”
  • Xola: “We need an entrepreneurial culture, a critical mass. We need more black entrepreneurial heroes. Youth need to be able to identify with people who are like them.”
  • Vusumuzi: “Banks can create a different loan system. They should invest in the youth.”
  • Major: “We need practical things when going to programs and incubators. The people presenting don’t understand what we go through. They are not entrepreneurs. We should learn from entrepreneurs.”

 

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ACLS International Summer School students and faculty meet UN SDG Action Campaign & UN Colleagues

Master’s and doctoral students as well as faculty of the Education Academy of Computational Life Sciences (ACLS) International Summer School engaged on harnessing technology and data for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the United Nations headquarters yesterday, 29 August 2016.

IMG_7ovu7d.jpgACLS International Summer School delegation visits “SDGs: A People-powered Agenda – Leave No One Behind” exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters

This year’s ACLS International Summer School, led by Professor Yutaka Akiyama,Dr. Eng. and Professor Takashi Harada, jointly hosted by the Tokyo Institute of Technology and Cornell University, has the thematic background of the Sustainable Development Goals. Therefore, students and faculty took a special tour of the SDGs: A People-powered Agenda – Leave No One Behind exhibition at the United Nations Headquarters, experienced the UN Portal installation and the UN Virtual Reality film series, before participating in a workshop and discussion on the SDGs.

IMG_-f30lht.jpgParticipants vote in the MY World 2030 Survey at the exhibition 

At the interactive exhibition, Summer School participants voted in the MY World 2030 Survey, the High Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment’s special MY World 2030 Empower Women Thematic Survey and wrote their commitment to the SDGs on the blackboard. After experiencing the human stories behind today’s pressing challenges through the UN Virtual Reality film series, students were able to converse live with internally displaced people (IDPs) inside the Harsham camp on the northern edge of Erbil, Iraq, through the UN Portal. Harsham is a camp that hosts more than 1500 internally displaced Iraqi families who fled Mosul and its surrounding villages to escape Islamist militant attacks.

IMG_-86o9x7.jpgStudents experience the UN Virtual Reality film series

IMG-20160829-WA0025.jpgFaculty and students inside the UN Portal speaking live with IDPs in Harsham, Iraq

Later, students and professors engaged in a SDGs workshop collaboratively held by the UN SDG Action Campaign, the UN Department for Public Information (DPI), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) Gender Team, and the UNDP Sustainable Development Team.

IMG_5pq75w.jpgAlice Chen, UN SDG Action Campaign, presenting on how to harness technology and data for SDGs implementation 

Antje Watermann, UN DPI, provided an overview of the SDGs framework and communication strategies for advancing them. In particular, she highlighted the interconnected, universal, inclusive and transformative nature of the 2030 Agenda.

The UNDP Gender Team’s Henny Ngu spoke on utilizing technology to achieve gender equality. Sustainable Development Goal 5, “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls”, tasks UNDP to contribute to the eradication of poverty and the significant reduction of gender inequalities by empowering women and promoting and protecting their rights.

Alice Chen, UN SDG Action Campaign, presented on how students and scholars can get involved in SDGs implementation and advocacy, especially by drawing upon technology and data. For instance, the Campaign’s MY World 2030 Survey is a tool for localizing, monitoring and promoting accountability of the new agenda through 2030. In addition, exhibitions and data playgrounds have provided interactive displays of citizen-generated data and storytelling initiatives on the SDGs, as well as videos and new media content on the SDGs worldwide. Furthermore, United Nations Virtual Reality amplifies the voices of the most vulnerable in danger of being left behind, allowing them to narrate their story from their own perspective and in their own words.

UNDP Sustainable Development Team’s Yuqiong Zhou concluded the workshop by outlining UNDP’s work on integrating the SDGs and the ways they will programmatically support countries to achieve the 2030 Agenda.

IMG-20160829-WA0027.jpgAntje Watermann, UN DPI, discussing with students and faculty how academia can contribute to SDGs implementation

The presentations were followed by enthusiastic discussion by student and faculty. The audience was particularly interested on how the indicators would be measured, the expectation from different Member States in terms of how they would work towards achieving the SDGs, and most importantly, what scholars can do to contribute to the realization of the goals by 2030!

 

Building Bridges the Road to Nairobi launches on International Youth Day

Road to nairobi-logo (2)The Building Bridges Foundation’s Road to Nairobi 2016 project kicked off on International Youth Day, 12 August 2016, in Johannesburg and at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The Building Bridges Foundation is a not-for-profit organization established in the Netherlands. The mission is to foster youth-led solutions at the grassroots level in order to contribute towards the effective implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In their first project last year, the Foundation collected the opinions and priorities from young people by bike riding from Amsterdam to Cape Town in an effort to include youth voices in the development of the Sustainable Development Agenda.

In this second phase, the Road to Nairobi 2016a team of Dutch and South African youth will travel by bus from Johannesburg to Nairobi, meeting 80 inspirational and innovative youth entrepreneurs from all industries and walks of life in eight countries. In each country, these real life case studies of the challenges youth entrepreneurs face will be presented to government officials, CEOs, foreign ambassadors, representatives of the UN and the media during a youth summit in the capital. The project co-creates solutions that promote youth employment and aims to inspire African and global leaders by showcasing how young people are making a difference, and how their work can be further promoted to help achieve the SDGs by 2030. The results will be presented at the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) in Nairobi in December.

Building Bridges bus, which will carry the team and youth entrepreneurs to the Second High-Level Meeting of the GPEDC in Nairobi

“Young people often have the best out of the box solutions for difficult problems. So if we want a better life for unemployed young Africans, who else to ask then young African entrepreneurs.” said Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen. She continued, “they show that starting your own business empowers and creates jobs and income. The Road to Nairobi brings these smart youngsters together with politicians and business leaders who are eager for innovative and smart solutions. To reach the Sustainable Development Goals, young people are key.” Minister Ploumen supports the project in her role as co-chair of the GPEDC.

Through a series of multi-stakeholder events at the local and national levels, the project will help facilitate the co-creation of solutions and actions to promote youth employment in their respective countries. “We believe that only by working together with all stakeholders, can we achieve a more just, sustainable and equal world by 2030,” says Jilt van Schayik, co-founder of the Building Bridges Foundation. “Youth are traditionally seen as a problem, but we believe they are the solution. There are many youth entrepreneurs with innovative businesses solutions to overcome local challenges. We need to listen to their ideas, and help them grow to scale to create real impact for people on the ground.”

The Project was launched in South Africa in the Diepsloot Township jointly with the Building Bridges Team and the Dutch Embassy in South Africa. Focus on youth entrepreneurs in townships and rural areas, the launch included a panel discussion, about the enabling factors for innovative entrepreneurship and the necessary steps that will allow South African entrepreneurs to benefit from increased globalization.

IMG_2163The Road to Nairobi launch in Johannesburg with the Building Bridges team and the Dutch Ambassador in South Africa, H.E. Marisa Gerards

In addition to the project’s launch in South Africa, the project was ceremoniously launched at the SDGs exhibition in the United Nations Visitors Lobby by H.E. Mr. Karel van Oosterom, the Netherlands Permanent Representative to the UN and the UN SDG Action Campaign. The Ambassador toured the exhibition, seeing the enormous influence the first phase of Building Bridges had in collecting people’s voices to support the development of the SDGs. HE van Oosterom then viewed the current platforms for action, taking the MY World 2030 Survey reading the Humans if MY World stories and experiencing UN Virtual Reality. The visit concluded with a live video chat with the Building Bridges Team in South Africa, providing words of encouragement for their journey to foster youth employment on the African continent.

IMG_0051.jpgThe Road to Nairobi launch at the UN HQ with the Netherlands Permanent Representative to the UN, H.E. Karel van Oosterom

The Ambassador, his son as well as a team from the Permanent Mission of the Netherlands to the UN and the SDG Action Campaign wrote their good wishes to the Building Bridges Team on the large sized exhibition blackboard. In a statement on the occasion of the virtual launch in New York the Ambassador said, “youth must have a central role in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals. We hope projects like this inspire other youth to step up and help realize the Sustainable Development Goals.”

IMG_20160812_121005Ambassador Karel van Oosterom’s good wishes to Jilt van Schayik, co-founder of the Building Bridges Foundation, and part of the Road to Nairobi team

Kristin Gutekunst, UN SDG Action Campaign Project Manager, remarked, “we are excited to be partnering with the Building Bridges Foundation and the Government of the Netherlands to continue SDG momentum in this new phase of the Building Bridges project. Young people are integral to making the SDGs a reality for all by 2030. The MY World 2015 Survey identified Better job opportunities as one of the main priorities for youth globally. Advancing youth entrepreneurship through this project and bringing people’s voices to the United Nations will support us in achieving the SDGs.”

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 17.29.40The Road to Nairobi’s route across 8 countries

The Building Bridges team operates with the idea there is a gap between between local and international policymakers and the challenges faced by young people at the grassroots level. Simultaneously in New York, Building Bridges Representative and UN SDG Action Campaign Youth Advocate Jonas Lossau introduced the Road to Nairobi 2016 project and how it contributes to ‘17 SDGs in Action’ at the UN Headquarters on International Youth Day. Samantha Ndiwalana, a Building Bridges Project Manager, added, “the project is a way for young people to get together, to learn from each other, to share their solutions and to inspire each other. It is time for real action, not empty words.”

To create real changes, the Building Bridges team together with the most inspiring youth entrepreneurs will present their data and suggest solutions at the Second High-Level Meeting of the GPEDC in Nairobi.

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MY World 2030 launches next phase

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Did you know, the MY World Survey is comprised of much more than one simple question now?

On July 18, 2016, the UN SDG Action Campaign, in partnership with UNDP, ODI and Global Pulse, launched the next phase of MY World in the UNHQ. Partners from multiple sectors joined in the discussion, reporting on methodologies and strategies. They also presented lessons learnt and preliminary results from early pilot testing and representative studies.

See what our speakers and panelist have said during the MY World 2030 Launch!

  • MY World is an opportunity to hear from voices across the spectrum, voices of the people who really shifted this agenda” – Rosemary Kalapurakal, Lead Advisor, 2030 Agenda Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, UNDP
  • We really need to work together to make sure that the spirit of the MY World campaign lives” – Haoliang Xu, Assistant Administrator and Director for the Regional Bureau for Asia and the Pacific, UNDP
  • MY World 2030 is about monitoring progress, satisfaction and awareness” – Mitchell Toomey, Global Director, UN SDG Action Campaign
  • The main focus of a questionnaire has got to be on the individual respondent” – Hayk Gyuzalyan, Methods Director, TNS Opinion
  • Partnership is not about engaging varying entities, but also engaging all individuals in ensuring we leave no one behind” – Muhsin Syihab, from Indonesia
  • Local actions must be taken to make impact, particular by youth” – Maria Fernando Olvera, Director of Injuve
  • We must continue unfinished business of MDGs through implementation of SDGs” – Princess Orelope-Adefulire, from Nigeria

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The UN MY World 2015 survey (2013-2015) showed that it is both possible and useful to bring peoples’ voices directly into policy making at a global level.  MY World was designed to bring the voices of individual people into the political deliberaCapture d’écran 2016-08-02 à 15.10.44tions on the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and it has been highly successful in doing so. Almost ten million people have responded to the survey, and the results have fed into every part of the political process for creating the new goals.  MY World has been cited as part of the High Level Panel deliberations, the Open Working Group discussions, the PGA consultations and the Independent Expert Group on Data. The SG, DSG, Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning, Secretary General Youth Envoy and chair of the UNDG regularly reference the MY World data.

MY World 2030 will have two clear areas to contribute to, enabled through four different channels.

Main goals of MY World 2030:

  1. Contribute to efforts to report back on progress. The aim here will be to collect globally comparable (both at scale and nationally representative) data to monitor how people feel their lives are changing. This data could feed into official monitoring efforts both locally and globally and contribute to an enhanced mechanism for the effective monitoring and implementation of the goals.
  2. Mobilise and build dialogue between decision makers such as parliamentarians, local governments, mayors and citizens, in particular young people in order to contribute a “people’s perspective” on how to implement the new agenda at different levels and establish accountability mechanisms.  This data and citizen voice will be focused at the community; municipal and provincial level and provide a rich source of information for national decision makers. It is envisaged that this dialogue will be aggregated at national, regional and global levels. The demand for this has been demonstrated by the MY Municipality initiative in Macedonia and the continued expansion of U Report globally.

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Continue reading MY World 2030 launches next phase

UN SDG Action Campaign at European Development Days

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UN team

On 15-16 June 2016,  the UN SDG Action Campaign jointly with the UN Brussels Team facilitated the setting up and coordination of an SDG Action Hub at the European Development Days (EDD) in Brussels, Europe’s leading forum on sustainable development. For its tenth anniversary, EDD 2016 focused on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Organized by the European Commission, EDD brings the development community together each year to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.

Watch our new video featuring highlights and prominent speakers from EDD 2016:

Agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represent an unprecedented leap forward in the fight against poverty and inequalities, as well as in the struggle for environmental sustainability. The SDGs embody a universal, inclusive and transformative vision of development, which calls upon all Member States to ensure a life of dignity for all, leaving no one behind.

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UN team with World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim, UN Secretary-General Ban  Ki-moon and his wife Mrs. Ban, and European Commissioner Neven Mimica

The EDD provided a unique opportunity to generate momentum around Agenda 2030 in Europe and across the globe, and to reflect on the universal character of the Goals.

At this year’s forum, the United Nations (UN) showcased and celebrated the Agenda 2030’s inclusive spirit of leaving no one behind and the SDGs, which are truly the “peoples’ goals”. It also underscored the importance of citizen engagement and action-centered initiatives to deliver on the Agenda and achieve the Goals.

Queen Mathilde of Belgium visits the UN Stand

Visitors to the stand had the opportunity to learn more about the SDGs through new technologies such as virtual reality, and interact with the data generated from the MY World survey, as well as to promote the SDGs first-hand by having a say at the stand’s meeting point and taking pictures of themselves with the different Goals.

Visitors interact with data and watch virtual reality

Watch video / See photos

Humans of MY World is now in Rio!

RIo.jpgCountdown to Rio with the Humans of MY World!

With the arrival of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, the world’s eyes are focused on Rio de Janeiro, the “marvelous city.” Known for its good vibes, warmth and joy, Rio de Janeiro is home to many local characters with inspiring stories to tell, whether in line at the bank, on the road or at happy-hour after work.

To honor the people of Rio in the lead up to the Olympics, Roberta Thomaz, member of the RIO+ Centre team set off for the streets of Rio to capture the peoples’ energy, creativity and hope in their attempt to live more sustainably. The RIO+ World Centre for Sustainable Development, a legacy of the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), was set up to keep the commitment to sustainable development alive in both action and ideas. A partnership between the Government of Brasil and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) based in downtown Rio, every day they inspire and inform policies and practices that lead to greater social, environmental and economic justice in an attempt to transform the urban daily life, artistic and social of Rio’s population.

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All photos by Roberta Thomas

Join the 10 day countdown as we share the hopes and dreams of some of the local people of Rio by following the Humans of MY World on Facebook!

 

SDGs: A People-powered Agenda – Leave No One Behind

The SDGs Exhibition Launches July 18 at the United Nations!

Throughout the post-2015 process and following a call to action from the United Nations Secretary-General in 2012, over ten million people shared their hopes and dreams with the UN to help shape the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). As we enter the era of Agenda 2030, the challenge now is to show that the SDGs are in fact achievable through partnership and action from everyone everywhere.  Will YOU become a part of this movement to build a better world?

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INTRODUCTION

The exhibition recounts how millions of ordinary people have ensured the Sustainable Development Goals are a bold and ambitious agenda through the most inclusive and transparent process the UN has ever seen. It also provides some concrete examples of the actions people can take now to help their governments with the implementation of the SDGs by 2030.

We need YOU to help ensure the SDGs become widely known and to ensure that as the Agenda 2030 is implemented, and NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND.

The exhibition was curated, designed and produced by the UN SDG Action Campaign on behalf of the UN Development Group (UNDG), in partnership with: the Federal Government of Germany, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

It features voluntary input and stories from millions of people around the world through data visualizations, photographs, videos, virtual reality. It also allows interactive ways to share your opinion, make your commitment and explore how to take action on the SDGs.

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HOW TO VISIT

The exhibition is open to the general public during official UN visiting hours, 418 July 18 – 7 September 2016,

Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm
Saturday & Sunday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm
All visitors must exit the building by 5:30pm

The entrance is at 46th Street and 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Visitors without an official UN Pass will have to first obtain a guest pass at the screening station on 46th and 1st across the street from the UN. Be sure to bring a photo ID.

If your delegation or mission would like to schedule a special exhibition tour, please kindly contact Alice Chen at alice.chen@undp.org (6096510945)

FEATURED CONTENT

MDGs to SDGs

MyWorld-29Learn about the process that led us from the Millennium Development Goals to the Sustainable Development Goals with a special emphasis on peoples’ voices. By using cutting edge technology and data visualizations, the voices of over 10 million people, especially the voices of the most vulnerable populations, are told through the following initiatives:

  • MY World 2015 Survey – over 10 million people, most of them youth, have told the UN their top six of sixteen priorities for a better world, data that has fed into the post-2015 agenda
  • World We Want – a knowledge platform hosting documentation, and data visualizations including those from online, national and thematic civil society consultations
  • Humans of MY World – a photo exhibition telling the stories of MY World voters around the world
  • Virtual Reality – immerse yourself in the life of some of the world’s most vulnerable using high-tech 3D VR headset

Action to Engagement Arena

MyWorld-53The action and engagement arena allows visitors to “get their hands dirty” and take action for furthering the SDGs: right here, right now! These are some of the ways to take action:

  • MY World Survey2030 – Modeled after the first phase of MY World, this citizen satisfaction survey will monitor Global Goal progress and allow further specialization at a local level
  • Women’s Economic Empowerment– tell us what you think would help to empower women economically by filling out our survey
  • Own Your Voice– Virtually “Meet” six young women from around the world who are using their voice to change the world, they are the Youtube Change Ambassadors!
  • Commitment Corner – How will you help achieve the SDGs by 2030? Make your commitment on our SDGs blackboard and take a selfie, tag us @SDGAction

There’s more, but you’ll have to come see for yourself. Visit the SDGs Exhibition before September 7th 2016 and see what actions you can take for the SDGs!

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Jagriti Yatra 2015 – Train ride for a better world

Written by Sailesh Singhal

Ever wonder what can happen on an epic train ride across India to talk about the SDGs? Here’s your answer! I was a part of a Jagriti Yatra journey with 449 other young people to 12 destinations in India to share news on the SDGs and the World We Want. A Yatra takes us along the major challenges and help us shape our own ideas. It dives into the rich cultural heritage that our country is honored with and experience the shift in climate as the train proceeds from South to North. The Yatra is the germinating ground for ideas and exchange of culture. It is a place where individuals from different backgrounds come together and feel the responsibility of being the change. Fifteen years is what we have to create a better society and youth is the Only Catalyst. Yatra teaches us the best to way to contribute. Get down to the society and get our hands dirty!

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Journey with a Vision
Jagriti Yatra is a 15 days, 8000 km world’s largest national train journey, which takes selected youth to meet the role models who are developing unique solutions to India’s developmental challenges. It attracts 17,000 registrations through India and some parts of the world of which only 450 of the most qualified are selected for the journey. The train stops in 12 locations and youth delegates have the opportunity to personally meet exceptional change-makers who are transforming India.

Jagriti Yatra has been a transformational journey, which aimed for an equal representation of young women and men to achieve the Planet 50-50 by 2030. Jagriti Yatra had 40% girls and women representation in 2015. During my Yatra (Journey), I had been advocating for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the World We Want platform. Sustainable Development Goals need to be trickled down in the society through the youth body channels and it’s very important for youth to know about the SDGs. Unfortunately, a minority of us know about our vision of 2030. Thereby, it’s essential for us to show a clear vision of the next 15 years before we actually jump right into achieving the goals.

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Advocating about SDGs and World We Want 

Gender Equality is not a short-term goal. However, we need to start bringing a shift in the mentality of the people from today by talking about the equal opportunities.

Through the MY World 2015 Survey, we can see that of the 902,300 people who have voted in India, over 400,000 prioritized Equality between men and women, making Gender Equality the number 5 most prioritized issue in the survey.

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Young women and men are the carriers of our vision and we need to engage discussions with more young people. The role of young people is not only important as actors in attaining gender equality, but also as partners in creating a world that is equal if we want to achieve the goal of planet 50-50 by the year 2030. Campaigns such as HeForShe, MARD, #YouthForGenderEquality need strengthening as we move towards the SDGs.

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Founder of Innokul commits to Goal 5 vision

Life on the train is as busy as it gets! With a packed schedule of debates, presentations and conversations, and a blend of art, music and poetry, Yatris find themselves fully involved at all times. The Yatra sets out to be a life changing experience for us to catalyse that shift in mindset. Not only to you but through you, to millions of youth who are watching this expedition as it curves across this great and beautiful land of ours. When we hear how our inspiring role models have created their institutions surmounting all odds; when we hear of the stories of leadership and courage from our co-travellers, we discovered an India that waits to be unleashed. You are that dynamic spirit that will unleash a new society.

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Data and Development – A Conversation with Peoples’ Voices Challenge Winner, Popily

Throughout the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the UN Millennium Campaign had the pleasure of hosting the Peoples’ Voices Challenge Award Ceremony at the We the Peoples Hub. The Peoples’ Voices Challenge Awards is a celebration of the work of the hundreds of partners at the United Nations who gave voice to those who don’t often get a say in global conversations.

Data visualization is not normally the first thing you would think of when talking about empowering marginalized communities, but Popily is not your average data analytics firm. Popily is a data science and visualization company that lets everyday, non-technical people figure what is important from their data and share it with anyone, anywhere. The Popily team used the millions of MY World survey results and thousands of Humans of MY World Facebook page posts to generate interactive data visualizations. The public can explore these visualizations on their website, so people can discover the stories in the data that they find most meaningful. We talked to Popily Co-Founder Vidya Spandana about the role data visualization and analytics plays in the Post-2015 Agenda.

Tell us about Popily, some of the things you work on, and your goals as an organization:

Popily is a data visualization and data science company, we let people put in their data and automatically generate thousands of visualizations so that they can walk through a data set instead of being confused by a giant spreadsheet of lots of numbers. [Popily] is really there to democratize data so that people who don’t have a background or experience in science or statistics can actually engage with it in a real way. Imagine being able to walk through a visual representation, instead of just looking at a piece of paper. The more people who can do that, the more empowered they can be to make decisions on what is actually happening.

For us data is a way to see the world in an observational way with some kind of reality to it, and so for more people to have the ability to access that the better we think so that we can make collective decisions together. That aligns perfectly with the work that the [UN Millennium Campaign] is doing with MY World.

What was it that made [Popily] decide that [The MY World Survey] would be a perfect pilot project for you guys to work on?

When [CEO Jonathan Morgan] brought [MY World] on for us we were really excited because the idea of actually getting information and data about peoples lives around the world really humanizes the whole date concept and really brings our tool to life. We would actually really like to step back and let the data and the voice of the people shine and this was the best opportunity to do that.

What does this mean for Popily to win [Most Innovative Visualization] right now?

It’s extremely exciting for us, we launched officially about two or three months ago so it’s very new for us and to be able to announce partnership with the United Nations, to explore people’s data that actually has meaning has us over the moon. This is an opportunity that we’ve really been able to leverage and open up new opportunities around democratizing data. What were are more excited about is to bring data in the hands of regular people and whatever tools they need to be able to explore it.

What are some of the ways that people can actually use Popily?

 Sure! You would just go to Popily.com and then there you can sign up to either upload your own data sets and explore it or there are loads of public data sets – including the MY World data set – that you can explore yourselves.

What are some of the finding you saw in the [MY World] data?

 There were so many things that were really exciting. Just getting to actually look at what is in there has been sort of like a treasure that you can open up and see. One of the things that was really interesting is how education is such a priority across gender, age, and country… I also thought that is was interesting how in certain countries the younger generation… its better to reach them via paper balloting as opposed to any kind of web or mobile tools, and I would have never expected that.

What do you have planned for the future?

 There’s a lot actually! We’ve been partnering with companies and organizations, especially governments and city governments, to be able to explore data that citizens would care about. So helping organizers put the data in a shape that they can make some decision on and then put it back out in the hands of regular people is really fun and is exactly what we got to do.

UNMC Brings 8 Million Peoples’ Voices to Bangkok, Thailand

ESCAP Youth Volunteers Celebrate 7 Million Voices and the Peoples' Voices Challenge!
ESCAP Youth Volunteers Celebrate 7 Million Voices and the Peoples’ Voices Challenge!

As “We the Peoples” Data Playground World Tour kicks into high gear in preparation for the 70th UN General Assembly and the announcement of the post-2015 development agenda, we showcased peoples’ voices through cutting-edge technology at the Asia Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development 2015 (APFSD 2015) and the 71st Session of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

From May 25-29, 2015, the UN Millennium Campaign, in partnership with UNESCAP, UN Volunteers, UNDP, P&G, and Samsung, hosted an interactive Data Playground. Delegates from around the world explored the MY World data, participated in the special screening of the virtual reality film, Clouds of Sidra,  reviewed the Humans of MY World (HOMY) photo exhibition, and were invited to join the Peoples’ Voices Challenge.

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APFSD 2015 delegates looking through MY World results
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World We Want data visualization fascinates delegates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diplomats, academics, ministers and delegates used Samsung touchscreen technology to disaggregate the MY World Dataset by region, country, gender, education levels, age groups and HDI and live data visualizations on the global, regional, and local post-2015 conversation on the World We Want were highlighted.

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MY World Asia Priorities

Out of the over 7.5 million people who have voted in the MY World survey, approximately 3.13 million people, or over 41%, are from the Asia-Pacific Region. Using data, policy makers were able to answer the question on everyone’s mind: what kind of world do Asians really want? They discovered in Asia that the top priorities are “A good education”, “Better healthcare”, and “An honest and responsive government”.

We believe that behind every MY World vote there’s a personal story that deserves to be told. That is why with the HOMY exhibition, we wanted to go one step further and look beyond the data to help policy makers understand WHY people have voted the way they have? What is the reason for choosing one priority above the other 15 priorities?

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Presenting the HOMY exhibition to the Prime Minister of Thailand, H.E. Mr. Prayut Chan-o-cha

Sponsored by P&G, the beautiful HOMY exhibition featured MY World voters from different backgrounds. A woman from the transgender community in Manila, the Philippines spoke to policy makers through HOMY. She chose “Freedom from discrimination and persecution” as her top priority because she “wants a whole world without discrimination. Being different means being hurt. On the inside, and maybe the outside as well. I pray it won’t always be like that.” We had the distinct honor to present the HOMY exhibition to the Prime Minister of Thailand, H.E. Mr. Prayut Chan-o-cha.

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Humans of MY World
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Executive Secretary of ESCAP H.E. Shamshad Akhtar Experiences Virtual Reality

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, we initiated a project to bring the world’s most pressing challenges home to decision makers and global citizens around the world through Virtual Reality (VR). VR allowed APFSD 2015 and Regional Commission delegatsd to meet a 12-year old Syrian girl named Sidra living in a refugee camp. Sidra took them on a tour of her new home, into her new classroom, and brought them to dinner with her family. As the first UN virtual reality documentary, we wanted to push the boundaries of empathy by bringing humanity to the front of the global development discussion. The VR film had a profound affect over her audience, one delegate said after watching that Clouds Over Sidra is the “most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen in my life”.Bangkok 11

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Clouds Over Sidra brings audience into another universe